This Florida-Friendly groundcover is perfect for shady spots or for any northern gardeners who miss growing hostas.
Peacock gingers are shade-loving perennials that make great groundcovers here in Florida. Most bloom throughout the summer with small pink or purple flowers, but peacock gingers are best known for their beautiful leaves.
The round or oval leaves can be 4 to 10 inches long and typically feature a green background overlaid with bold markings in bronze, purple, or silver, though some varieties also have solid green leaves.
Their broad leaves and low growth habit allow peacock gingers to serve as a lovely stand-in for hostas, a favorite of many gardeners who move to Florida from up north.
Peacock gingers are classified under the genus Kaempheria and are suited for USDA hardiness zones 8-11. Smaller species like K. pulchra have dark green leaves with bronze or purple markings and bloom throughout the summer with small pink, lavender, or white flowers.
Another popular species is K. laotica, which has light to medium green leaves with intricate patterns of burgundy and bronze. One of the largest species is K. rotunda, which can grow up to two feet tall and has green leaves with silver markings and purple undersides.
Peacock gingers will gradually spread to fill an area, making them an ideal groundcover. Their knack for making new plants also means that you can easily lift and divide them, passing along the new plants to friends.
Keep in mind that peacock gingers are deciduous—they lose their leaves in winter only to have them return again in late spring—so be sure to plan your garden design appropriately.
Peacock gingers have also been recognized under the Florida Garden Select Plant program organized by the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association. This program promotes the use of superior and proven Florida plants.
Planting and Care
Choose a spot that receives full or partial shade, and plant peacock gingers so that their rhizomes will be about 1/2 inch below the soil surface. Peacock gingers will tolerate a range of soils, though the plants will generally perform best in a rich, well-drained soil. Remember to water regularly while the plants are getting established and then as needed during the growing season.
For more information on peacock ginger, contact your county Extension office.